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  • Teresa Munoz mourns over the coffin of her daughter Maria Jose Alvarado during a wake for Maria Jose and her sister Sofia in Honduras, Nov. 20, 2014.

    Teresa Munoz mourns over the coffin of her daughter Maria Jose Alvarado during a wake for Maria Jose and her sister Sofia in Honduras, Nov. 20, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 February 2016

Honduras has some of the highest femicide rates in the world, and rampant impunity fuels the crisis by perpetuating gender violence as acceptable.

As Honduras continues to suffer a crisis of gender violence with one woman killed every 16 hours, international organizations launched a campaign against violence against women in the Central American country Wednesday to combat the rampant problem.

Under the banner, “I am a woman and living without violence is my right,” the new campaign launched by the International Organization for Migration and the U.N. Population Fund with support of the Honduran government aims to reduce shocking rates of violence against women by raising awareness.

In Honduras, the rate of violent killings of women increased by over 260 percent between 2005 and 2013. In 2014 alone, at least 513 women were victims of femicide in Honduras, according to Cepal statistics. Honduras’ Center for Women’s Rights reports that one woman was killed every 16 hours in Honduras in 2015.

Along with being home to soaring rates of femicide, Honduras is also considered among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest rates of impunity. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, impunity has a particularly heavy impact on women and “perpetuates the social acceptance of the phenomenon of violence against women.”

"Living without violence is your right! Join the fight against gender violence"

During the kick-off event, IOM representative Evelyn Andino stressed the importance of the campaign by explaining that gender violence negatively impacts women’s health, freedom, and survival. The advocate called on the Honduran government to step up its efforts to promote equality and autonomy for women and enshrine respect for human rights in public policy.

ANALYSIS: Femicide in Mesoamerica Persists as Systemic Gender Violence

The campaign goal is to educate society and empower youth to fight to break the cycle of violence, while encouraging women to not be afraid to report abuse, Honduran Vice Minister of Security Alejandra Hernandez told the news agency EFE.

"Presentation today 'I am a women and living without violence is my right' together with National Institute for Women and Alejandra Hernandez."

Many Honduran feminists have called attention to structural causes of violence against women that demand deeper reforms to get to the root of the gender crisis.

In the same period that femicide in Honduras has skyrocketed, the country also lived through a military coup that ousted former President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 and aggressively recharged neoliberal politics in the country. The coup ushered in a wave of grave human rights abuses, increased militarization, criminalization, and impunity.

"Honduras. Without investigating femicides, authorities lay the blame on the dead women."

Feminist artist Melissa Cardoza recently told teleSUR that Honduran women are disproportionately impacted by the country’s neoliberal policies of “exploitation and misery,” while feminist activist Maria Luisa Regalado told teleSUR that the security strategy of increased militarization only serves to worsen the crisis of violence.

Last month, Honduras launched a special investigative unit to investigate femicides in response to social movement pressure to act on the crisis. But many have criticized the government for only allocating US$1.5 million to the new initiative and argue that more needs to be done.

While the new government-backed women’s rights campaign can play a key role in raising social awareness about the country’s widespread problem of violence against women, it seems certain that grassroots Honduran women’s organizations and feminists will continue fighting for structural responses to the crisis.

WATCH: Honduras Special Unit to Focus on Femicides

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